Texas has the second largest public education system in the United States. Reform Austin is committed to providing in-depth reporting to illuminate the critical issues and challenges facing students and teachers in Texas.
Currently, the state educates 5.4 million children, and the student population is only growing. However, Texas ranks 40th in the nation for per-student funding.
Educating and molding the next generation of thinkers, workers, and leaders is a vitally important job. Texas does rank first for the number of operating public school districts, the number of teachers in public K-12 schools, and the total number of instructional staff in public K-12 schools. Yet Texas has remained well below the national average for teacher salaries.
In the 86th Legislative Session, Texas lawmakers passed legislation requiring school districts to provide full-day Pre-K for eligible students. Though this is important progress for early childhood education in Texas, some school districts are struggling to implement Pre-K programs.
A U.S. Department of Education investigation that concluded in 2018 revealed Texas had failed to meet special education expectations. Since 2016, Texas has earned the same rating of “needs assistance” in relation to compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Although Texas legislators did allocate more money to students with disabilities in the 86th Legislative Session, Texas education leadership says they will not be able to provide all students with disabilities an adequate public education until 2020.
In August 2018, the Texas Education Agency released a newly designed accountability system to rank schools and school districts in three designated areas: student achievement, school progress, and closing the gaps. If a school district ranks poorly over consecutive years, the district is under threat of closure or state takeover. Reform Austin closely follows developments in school districts across Texas, including campus closures.
Reform Austin covers laws the Texas Legislature passes and the effects they have on the education system, as well as the laws that fail. In addition, we report on lawmakers involved to ensure our elected leaders are working for the public good.